HR leaders at the JSE, Discovery, and Google say they will continue working remotely

Donald Khumalo, Kammy Sing, and Avanthi Maharaj say they will continue working from home, at least in the short term.

As organisations have fought to keep their business and remote workforce going through the pandemic and many will continue doing so despite lockdown restrictions being lifted.  Discovery, for instance, is now looking at long-term options for remote working because productivity has been so much higher during lockdown. 

"Our staff productivity has been high during lockdown period and we're looking at medium-to-long term options where employees may continue working from home, to minimise the risk while the infection curve is rising. We've conducted employee experience surveys on working from home and together with business partners, are reviewing the results to further support our employees. Our employees' resilience is evident and we are so impressed with their adaptability, our employees are most important asset, their safety and wellbeing is paramount to us" says Kammy Sing, head of people operations at Discovery Group.

JSE HR director Donald Khumalo says that, because they had decided to continue working from home for the foreseeable future, they would be able to avoid the challenge of managing infections during winter, which is associated with the peak flu season. 

“We started our work from home programme two weeks before the lockdown. This was important for us to test our system resilience and operational capability outside of the office, he says, adding that the company had prepared a back to work strategy which will involve creating internal videos guiding employees on back-to-work protocols. 

“Our intent is to change the way we see the office, not as a place to work but a collaboration and innovation centre that drives a positive employee experience. We will give our colleagues over 60 and those with underlying conditions an extended period to work from home”

Meanwhile, at Google, market HR cluster head for UAE, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria Avanthi Maharaj says they also don’t foresee a speedy return to the office despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. She says that they were ahead of the curve in terms of planning their response to the virus, saying staff had been equipped to be able to work from home for the next six-to-twelve months. 

“We have given staff eight weeks of ‘carers leave’ for employees to be able to take in the event that one of their family members contract the virus or they need time off to sort out schooling arrangements for their children whose worlds have also been turned upside down. We are trying to make a better Google by being there for Googlers in the moments that matter most,” says Avanthi.